We’re saying thank you to the many volunteers who show their local love for our community
When Ashleigh, Eni and Shariq saw how the pandemic was impacting their neighbours, they each sprung into action. Ashleigh made time to chaperone local kids and help them with homework, providing a break for parents struggling to find time to themselves. Eni also helped with the homework club and donated toys for kids stuck at home. Shariq collected essential hygiene products for the local food bank. And together, through a United Way-funded program at The Journey Neighbourhood Centre, they planned town halls and spoke to their neighbours to ensure that a diverse group of residents got a say in how to build a stronger, safer community.
Volunteers like these young people have been a vital part of our region’s response to the pandemic. Today I want to thank them, to thank all the volunteers who have stepped up and stood with their community, including many of you. Giving time and talent through United Way-supported Volunteer MBC and Volunteer Toronto when our frontline agencies were struggling to meet spiking demand. Screening applications to make sure the dollars went where they were most needed when United Way was infusing the sector with much-needed emergency funding. Knocking on doors to make sure neighbours had up-to-date information about COVID-19. Delivering food and providing shelter. Leading fundraisers and championing our cause.
Each and every one of your single acts of local love help meet the ongoing challenges of this pandemic and build a stronger GTA. Each and every one of you are part of a united way forward—the only way we will get closer to homes, to food, to jobs for everyone. To being the kind of region we know that we can be.
Tomorrow is the first day of National Volunteer Week, a time to celebrate the volunteers who have done so much for the GTA this past year.
Always, and only, thank you for standing with community.
President & CEO
United Way Greater Toronto
Things to Know Right Now
The numbers are in. Despite concerns that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs, a new report shows that as wages grew from $11.60 per hour to $14 in 2018 total employment in Ontario increased and racialized women saw a reduction in the wage gap. Back in 2017, United Way’s Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario (PEPSO) research and advocacy played a pivotal role in supporting sweeping changes to labour legislation through the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, which, among other measures, scheduled increases to bring the minimum wage to $15. While it’s gratifying to see the positive impact of these efforts, it’s clear that there’s still work to do. It is Ontarians with the lowest incomes, including minimum wage earners and people on social assistance, who are being hit hardest by the widening gap between income and the cost of living. That’s why United Way has called on the provincial government to increase Ontario’s social assistance rates—and why we will continue to advocate for paid sick leave and other policies that will ensure everyone in the GTA has what they need to thrive.
When the pandemic first began—and again this past winter—we spoke to you about the surge in need that was overwhelming local agencies. Over the past two years, you’ve helped to meet that surge, but we’re not out of the woods yet. As our own Nicole McVan, Vice President of Philanthropy and Marketing, recently told Radio-Canada, the need is still high even as charitable giving declines. One recent report says that one in four Canadians expect to use or are already using a charitable service this year—a reminder that the impacts of COVID-19 will stay with us for the foreseeable future. Despite these challenges, we remain hopeful, because we know people like you will continue to stand with United Way, with community, to ensure our region is all that it can be for everyone who lives here.
Local Love in Action
Want to show your local love for our region’s volunteers this National Volunteer Week? United Way-supported organizations have you covered. You can watch Volunteer MBC’s 2022 Virtual V-Oscars, a celebration of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon’s amazing volunteers. And Volunteer Toronto is leading a digital kick-off to National Volunteer Week tomorrow and Monday. Join them in celebrating the city’s 1.6 million volunteers by sharing a message, video or story about volunteers on social media with the hashtag #NVW2022.
Update from the Frontlines
United Way’s investments and leadership around services for newcomers have helped many access what they need to make the GTA home—and we will continue to facilitate a strong support network for Ukrainians as they join our region. In addition to the 28 dedicated agencies and programs supporting newcomers we already fund across Peel, Toronto and York Region, we will be funding a special project with COSTI to assist with the settlement of Ukrainian refugees. Beyond COSTI’s broader resettlement work, the agency will be hiring housing care workers with Ukrainian and Russian language skills that will help 100 Ukrainian families find safe and temporary accommodation, preventing potential homelessness, and connect them to culturally appropriate services and resources.